First months rent

It’s been about a month since I settled in Oakland.  Alot has happened and I’ve had alot to think about.  One of my roommates got me a job working for her at a marketing research company making calls to people to see if they want to participate in paid studies.  It doesn’t pay particularly well but the hours are good and the job itself is not as bad as I originally expected.  I never have to get up before 9 am and the office is small, well-lit, vibrant and constantly stocked with snacks.  The company holiday party involved decent food, wine, a chair masseuse, a small cash bonus and the usual corny Yankee Swap presents just in case you forgot you were at work still.

Having a job has certainly normalized my life here a little.  It’s made it easier to settle in and feel secure and start being creative again.  The warehouse where I’m living is full of distractions so making time for myself has been difficult, especially as I’m trying to make friends and feel like part of a community.  I’ve been to a couple parties attended mostly by  Burners, that seems to be the community that I’ve found myself in.  If you haven’t been to Burning Man, you are the exception.  Hello, my hand just raised and now everyone knows.  I feel naked and everyone is staring at me.

Actually, that has been my general experience here so far.  I feel very out of place most of the time.  I’ve had great moments when I do feel comfortable and understood and appreciated.  I’ve had some amazing conversations that expand my brain and remind me of the person I am and what I find most important in life.  But when your life purpose is something so abstract as experiencing decent connections with people, it’s easy to feel sometimes like you’re failing.  There is no tangible physical result to grasp and when a connection with a person is made, by nature it is a fleeting moment.  Perhaps my life purpose is just another kind of addiction as I seek to surround myself with loving, open and authentic individuals.  These individuals, like myself, don’t stay in one place forever.  Thankfully, there is the internet to give us some string to tug on when we need to connect to those who aren’t next to us.

The month that I’ve spent in Oakland has definitely caused a lot of growth.  I can tell because change often makes me feel uncertain and question my decisions.  That’s what I’m doing now.  Did I make the right decision to stay here?  I suppose.  The right decision is the one you make.  There really is no wrong decision.  I remind myself that I am here in this particular place, in this particular time, for a reason regardless of whether it is known to me.  The amount that I am learning about myself in such a short amount of time proves that I’m in the right place.  It’s just teetering on the painful at the moment.

I’ve been dealing with the uncertainty of my situation as well as I know how.  Trying to connect to people to talk to and if that’s not possible then I find some solitary creative outlet.  I bought a sketchbook the day I got my first paycheck though I haven’t used it yet.  I’ve painted two wonderful jellyfish on the wall of my bedroom and that helped tremendously.  But I had my first real dream last night of being at a pottery studio and getting ready to throw for the first time in what feels like an eternity.  I spent the whole dream having to tend to other things so that I never got to sit down and feel the clay in my hands.  I woke up feeling quite unsatisfied.

I’m realizing as I get more settled that the eyes I used to see the world while I was traveling have glazed over.  I have started to take my surroundings for granted and reverted back to clinging to mundane routine parts of life that give me the illusion of comfort.  Once every few days, I get a flash of how I saw the world when I had fewer worries and I see the world as magically as it is.  I realize logically I can bring those visions back with a bit of effort.  Hopefully, I can manage that.  But I also realize I need to be in the right space to achieve that and I’m struggling to make this warehouse my home.

Living here is a bit like being on Survivor.  You build relationships with people, consider them your allies, and hopefully you don’t get voted off the island.

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3 thoughts on “First months rent

  1. Keep being true to yourself, it’s the only sane way for an artist. I do like your pottery a lot, especially the tadpoles….I ‘m a frog nut. Keep yourself around interesting people and if you have to keep moving thats o.k. too.
    Just keep making good art it will settle your soul.

  2. Fade,
    Thank you for your writing, which is a window into your soul, as they say. I find that at this point in my life, I have no fear about where the next money is coming from, even though I am unemployed, and living on the reservation. Like a lily of the field, my needs are cared for without any angst on my part. Somehow, I am positioning myself for the next adventure, through patiently waiting and interacting with my native friends. I wrote a proposal and am waiting for the meeting to discuss it. If it doesn’t fly, I still will stay in this area, since it is the most healthy landscape in these days of Fukishima fallout. I love the open sapce, the freedom of the reservation life, and the depth of authentic relationships with people who, like me, love nature, and fight to preserve it. On some level, I will never belong, because my bloodlines are from elsewhere, including some Mohawk, but on another level, I totally belong as long as I stay humble, work hard, confront oppression from whites who come to take over and give advice, and support the people in any way I can. Stay strong and know that you are always welcome in my home, wherever I am. Emerson and I were going to make you a relative, but then he died. As far as I am concerned, you are already a relative, so come back someday.

    • Thank you so much Susan for your message! You made me cry at work. I’m really glad you think of me as family because you are so important to me and the feeling is definitely mutual. I started a collage of photos on my wall just a couple days ago to celebrate my family, much of which is appropriated. The photo you put on Facebook of you and Emerson not only inspired it but it went up first. I looked into actually flying up for Emerson’s service but I just couldn’t afford it. I will most definitely be back; much of my heart is still there and with you. Thanks for keeping in touch and call me whenever you can, I’d love to talk more!

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